Download Festival: An Expert’s Guide

Main stage at Download Festival for rock, England

Main Stage. Photo © Milly Youngman

Since the ’80s, Donington Park has been a ‘metal Mecca’ of sorts, from the days of Monsters of Rock through to Download Festival, which has graced the site annually since 2003.

Having played host to some of the biggest names in heavy music, this year the festival sees Slipknot bring back their breath-taking stage show. The sure-to-be-epic  Muse make their Download debut, and glam legends KISS close the festival in true rock and roll party style. But there’s more to this festival than just the headliners – the whole weekend is absolutely jam-packed with bands from almost every subgenre of rock music you can think of.

1. Main Stage

The Saturday main stage is a dream come true for those who like their (mostly) more modern rock, seeing punk heroes Rise Against lead straight into the explosive A Day To Remember.  More into your classic and glam? Slash and Motley Crue provide a fantastic warm-up for headliners KISS on the Sunday night. On Friday, festival favourites Five Finger Death Punch climb nearer to the top of the bill, followed by classic superstars Judas Priest.

2. Fightstar and Andrew WK

If there’s nothing on the main stage that tickles your fancy – fear not! Download has not one, not two, not three but FOUR stages of music, covering the huge spectrum of the rock world. If you got excited about Fightstar’s return last year, catch them headlining the third stage on Friday night; and if you want to ‘party hard’ don’t miss Andrew WK’s much-anticipated set on Saturday. In the mood for something a bit different? Get your dubstep on with electronic rock outfit Modestep, Friday on the second stage.

Second stage at Download Festival, Donington Park

Second stage, just as good. Photo © Milly Youngman

3. New bands

As well as the big-name bands, Download is a great place to discover your new favourite acts. For those who like their punk fast and furious, Gnarwolves are a must-see; or if you’re more into extreme metal, don’t miss Carcass. Radio 1 Rock Show host Daniel P Carter will also be making an appearance with his heavy-hitting Krokodil, who made a blinding debut at the festival in 2013.

Guitarist from rock band Baby Godzilla

Baby Godzilla. Photo © Milly Youngman

4. Campsite village

If you have a five-day camping ticket, you’ll also get to experience the wonders of the Download campsite village. Catch the future of the Download line-up hand-picked by the most dedicated festival fans at the Thursday night Boardie Takeover, dance into the wee small hours in the Doghouse, chase your mates around playing Laser Tag – and you can even get ‘married’ in the brand new on-site Wedding Chapel!

5. Or a hotel?

Missed out on camping tickets? You can still grab a hotel room near Donington Park. There are about 12 Travelodges in the area, from Leicester to Nottingham, including the Nottingham EM hotel and one in central Loughborough. Prices are from about £39 for a family room at the moment.

For any fan of the rock/metal genres, Download is an absolute must – the fantastic community spirit of the festival will make you feel right at home. There’s so much to see over the weekend, we guarantee that the Donington pilgrimage will be one of the best weekends of your year!